Australia can lead the world to zero-carbon prosperity

Australia can lead the world in making another critical technology cheaper than fossil fuels: Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) with storage.

Following its acclaimed Zero Carbon Australia stationary energy plan, Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) is releasing today a new report: Laggard to Leader: How Australia Can Lead the World to Zero Carbon Prosperity. The report shows the magnitude of Australia’s contribution to climate change – and makes the case that Australia has the power to lead the world towards climate solutions while the UN negotiations are hopelessly deadlocked.

Staying within the 2°C temperature goal, which all nations have formally endorsed, requires global emissions to peak and start declining by 2020 at the absolute latest.

Yet the best case scenario for the UN negotiations would entail emissions cuts coming well after 2020. The UN negotiations therefore cannot provide the solution we need to avoid runaway climate change.

Meanwhile, Australia’s is making the problem worse. Australia’s coal and gas export emissions are already double its high “domestic” fossil fuel emissions, and its fossil fuel export emissions are on track to more than double again by 2030.

If this goes ahead, Australia will export more carbon dioxide to the world than Saudi Arabia does today: almost twice as much. Australia’s total domestic and fossil fuel emissions in 2030 would equal a jaw-dropping 11% of the 2°C carbon budget, for that year.

But Australia can choose whether to continue exporting this coal and gas. BZE’s report outlines an approach that would enable us to choose not to.

BZE’s new report calls for Australia to institute a moratorium on new fossil fuel developments as the centrepiece of a global campaign to phase out fossil fuels.

Such a move would herald  Australia’s leadership role, in collaboration with other willing nations, to decarbonise the global economy and move to renewable energy.

Germany led the world in making solar panels cheap. Australia can lead the world in making another critical technology cheaper than fossil fuels: Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST) with storage. This technology, which is operating today in other countries, produces 24 hour electricity from the power of the sun.

The greatest gift that sunny Australia could give to the world would be to repeat for CST what cloudy Germany did for solar panels: through smart policies and targeted investments, enable the deployment across Australia of enough CST to make this game-changing technology cost-competitive with fossil fuels everywhere.


The report’s primary authors are

Fergus Green – Chairman of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership and a 2012 General Sir John Monash Scholar to the London School of Economics

Reuben Finighan – 2012 Fulbright Scholar and 2012 Frank Knox Scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Public launch event details:

  • Melbourne press conference, Monday July 23rd, 3PM @ the Melbourne Sustainable Society               Institute, Alice Hoy (building 162) southern annexe,               Melbourne University (see map attached) – RSVP to
  • Melbourne launch, Monday July 23rd, 6.30-8pm @ the Sydney Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne, register here
  • Sydney, Tuesday July 24th – 6.30-8pm @ Building 4, Level 2, Room 34,             University of Technology Sydney, Cnr Thomas & Harris             Streets (Access off Harris St), Ultimo register here:
  • Brisbane, Thursday July 26th – 6.30-8pm @ Bleeding Heart, 166 Ann St, Brisbane, register here: 

Download the report here: